SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Students could be seeing some extra help next month from Missouri State University (MSU).
Universities have seen an increase in students asking for financial aid. At Missouri State University roughly two-thirds of students receive some sort of financial assistance.
“Your traditional students right out of high school, they have fewer family resources to help them pay for school,” Director of Financial Aid Rob Moore said. “Our non-traditional students with loss of income and loss of a job, still having to pay for childcare and other expenses.”
The university is anticipating a rise in students requesting Special Circumstance reviews.
“[Special Circumstance reviews] are where we take into consideration some financial figures or economic hardships that are not reflected on the FAFSA, such as if a parent lost income or job loss of a family member, or high medical expenses,” Moore said. “We’re actually conducting outreach as part of the emergency assistance fund requirements to students to let them know that that’s an opportunity for them. We can go on to the FAFSA and make those changes to help qualify them for additional need based aid.”
MSU received $22.6 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Board of Governors Executive Committee approved plans to distribute this money to the Springfield and West Plains campus. Springfield will receive $20.8 million. West plains will receive $1.8 million.
There are three grant tiers that students will fall under. Students must be enrolled in at least one credit hour and seeking a degree. Students who receive the federal Pell Grant will receive $1500 to $1600.
“About one-third of our undergraduate student population is eligible for the Federal Pell Grant,” Moore said. “That indicates that about a third of our students are classified as high financial need. Those are students who rely on financial assistance through federal, state and institutional programs to help pay for school.”
Students who do not qualify for the Pell Grant will receive $1000. International students will receive $750. The only students that have to fill out an application to receive the grant is International students.
“We are required to certify that [international students] have financial need,” Moore said. “That’s part of the federal regulations. That’s why for the international students, there is an application component and required so that we can certify and meet those requirements obligations, so that we’re staying within bounds of what the Department of Education expects.”
Students can choose to get the money as a refund, or put it towards university expenses. The big change with these grants is the overall eligibility of who can get them.
“This latest iteration under the American Rescue Plan Act is that the pool of eligible students has been expanded previously,” Moore said. “Under the Cares Act and the CRRSAA Act, students had to have been eligible for or could have been eligible to apply for federal financial assistance. Essentially, they had a FAFSA on file, or they could have filed a FAFSA. Now, it’s opened up to anyone who’s enrolled at an institution, which makes it easier for us to process and get the money out the door, but it also expands the pool of eligible recipients.”
Being eligible for the grant without having to apply came as a shock for students.
“My parents are having a lot of difficulties especially with COVID and trying to make ends meet. With the stimulus it’s really going to help out,” Sophomore Sarah Hinkson said.
But, extra cash can go a long way.
“I know a lot of people are working multiple jobs just to pay for their tuition,” Sophomore Trancy Clark said. “Luckily I’m grateful I only have to work one job but still it can be just as stressful to try and get assignments done while working.”
MSU will finish gathering the number of eligible students at the end of this month. The university is looking to distribute the grant money in October.